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21 August 2004

There be bullets here 

Overheard on Fox News...

Reporting on the ground in Najaf I just heard a Fox correspondent tell the anchor that the sound of gun fire was in celebration of the latest Iraqi soccer victory.

Pay no attention to the men killing each other behind the curtain...

And has anyone else noticed that Josh Marshall is pissed lately?

This whole Swift Boat episode is entirely in keeping not just with the record of George W. Bush, but, to be frank, his whole family. Think back to the 1988 and 1992 presidential races. Partly, it's in the their political DNA. But it's also in the nature of blue bloods trying to ape populist politics -- for the key example, see the 1992 GOP convention in Houston and the sad antics of Bush family retainer Rich Bond.

I said a few days ago that it was ridiculous to compare the ads run by Moveon to the Swift Boat ones. And it's true -- they're very soft soap in comparison. But that's a mistake. They should be hitting much harder.

The president has chosen the ground on which he wants to fight this campaign. And as per usual he's mobilized friends and family retainers to do the fighting for him. The president is playing tackle football, not touch or flag. If the Dems keep up with the latter they'll lose.

Howzabout a little naval gazing? It appears that after about seven hundred posts in Ken's comments section, my war of attrition by quotes with As I Please commenter Dead Serious over the Swift Boat Veterans for "Truth" has finally come to an end. It looks like it was a good weekend for putting the stake through the heart of these assholes from Unfit for Command smearing our next Commander in Chief. Thanks for hosting my rantings over there Ken...

Saturday drippings 

I've spent a bit of time this week talking about the heavy-handed approach the national GOP appears to be taking on Louisiana's federal races this year. Between their betrayal of Jock Scott, the likelihood that they paid off Steve Scalise, and the annointment of Billy Tauzin, the Republican Party intends to leave a stamp on Louisiana by the time this cycle finishes itself off in December. Anyway, it's nice to have my suspicions confirmed by this account of a resignation in the LA GOP central committee. As usual, the Republican Party in the state of Louisiana can't get even the smallest semblance of unity. Why? Because they're not allowed to reach their own decisions about Louisiana candidates:

I would rather jump from a bridge than back the younger Tauzin, said Collette Vizier, who lives in the 3rd District town of Plattenville. The 3rd Congressional District is not a kingdom, Billy Tauzin Jr. was not the king and therefore Billy Tauzin III is not the heir apparent. He's running only on his daddy's name.

Vizier is not a member of the GOP executive committee that voted on the endorsement. She supports rival Republican candidate Craig Romero, a state senator from New Iberia, but says state party officials received instructions from the powers that be in Washington to break with a tradition of neutrality in races featuring several Republicans.

Obviously the state Party denies outside influence, but we all know better than that. More here.

20 August 2004

TKGOTW 

Late edition. I haven't had a lot of games to play this week, so you're left with this very difficult and terribly frustrating game of getting from Point A to Point B without being able to see your mouse. Have fun. I got fed up after level four.

If word games are your thing, here's an interesting version of hangman that helpfully allows you to choose your own categories.

Both games this week were shamelessly lifted directly off B3ta newsletter 148, though I tend to find these at least a step above last week's weak offerings.

Suspended 

What you talkin' 'bout Willis?
Our already painfully sub-par linebacking corps definitely didn't need this.

More Alexander 

Polozola sends the case back to a state court. For some ill-informed legal speculation on what this means I'd say that you can look for the judge who eventually handles the case to be tied by Louisiana's civil code which stipulates adherence to the written statutes, and as I understand it that doesn't bode well for Alexander's future in this election cycle.

Congratulations 

I've been putting this post off until I actually managed to get around to buying Esquire's current edition, but I wanted to give a special congrats to my good friend Mike Miley, who was a semi-finalist in Esquire's Celluloid Style Film Competition.

Unfortunately, the Esquire folks really dropped the ball on this one by including only the pictures and names of semi-finalists in their print edition. The formatting of the rest of the magazine is stacked with small-type font and includes all kinds of inanities about nearly every other picture, but around the names of the semi-finalists is nothing but negative orange space. Could it have hurt them to include even the most basic biographical info about these recognized participants?

Anyway, I hope this can help Miley generate some interest in his new project, which I don't know if I'm allowed to discuss here, but is adapted from a New Orleans novel and promises all kinds of sex, self-mutilation, and widespread disease and death. I personally can't wait for it, but first I'd like a certain woman we know as Beaver (your dirty minds shouldn't read anything into that nickname) to return it to the Lafayette Public Library so I can get my hands on it.

Rodney's Coattails 

There's no doubt that Alexander was popular in his district, but now he's got his citizen backers dumping the Democratic Party right along side of him. C'est la vie

Governor Kathleen Edwards Blanco 

Kathleen Blanco addressed the state NAACP yesterday. It's an otherwise boring story about Blanco's list of achievements regarding issues important to Louisiana's black residents. The reason I'm bothering with it is because Blanco's speech seems to have appropriated the message of a certain candidate for Vice President:

"We live in two different Louisianas," said Blanco, noting disparities in employment and education opportunities as well as the type of health care people receive.

Blanco said she's committed to ending a "persistent divide in Louisiana history" and providing everyone with equal chance for a prosperous life.

"I want to be remembered as the Louisiana governor who helped create this one, whole new Louisiana that gave all of our children opportunity," Blanco said as she addressed the civil rights group's 2004 Freedom Fund banquet.

I guess if it works, you may as well run with it.

Slow day 

There's not a whole lot in the papers today, though the news that the state finally has an agreement in principle to build the cargo airport between Baton Rouge and New Orleans is a good thing. I can't remember how many years this has been in the works, and it's hardly a done deal yet, but now it's finally in a position to get going.

More apologies 

This time to Ken, I got my own blog so I wouldn't essentially write blog posts in other people's comment sections. I still don't think this group is worthy of being treated here, but you guys can decide that for yourselves.

19 August 2004

Sorry 

If you noticed a lot of problems with the site reacting very slowly to your commands today, I think I've corrected the problem. If anyone noticed this earlier or is still noticing it now, send me a shout out in comments to let me know.

Ugh 

Long day today, sorry about the absence.

By way of apology here's a great Deuce McAllister memory. This is in overtime against the Falcons in the Dome last year on McAllister's last carry of the game. You may remember that on the Saint's previous possesion Deuce had a tragic fumble after a fifty-plus yard carry that almost handed the game to Atlanta. You can tell this one came after it because he's practically spooning the football. It set the Saints up for the game winning field goal.
You punks can't stop me!
Count on more great Saints memories as the season approaches.

Morning Quick Hits 

Some time soon I'm hitting the road for a few hours, so I wanted to get out some quick links to stories of note in the papers...

Anyway, here's a good account of the Edwards visit yesterday. The whole thing seemed to be pretty low-key with Edwards saying a lot of the same things he's been saying for weeks.

David Vitter isn't doing well enough on his campaign finance disclosures. Here's a guy who's raised over $2 million and has yet to identify all the necessary information of nearly half his donors.

Tom Benson is scheduled to meet with Blanco, among others, on Sept. 1 to discuss ways to ensure the long-term relationship between the team and the state, and that whole stadium proposal...

Possibly more to come...

Blanco disappointment 

She came out in favor of the state's Gay Marriage Amendment yesterday. She's been tip-toeing around this issue since it was introduced into the legislature, which was disappointing enough. The logic for her vote is absolutely ridiculous:

The proposal, she said, "is in keeping with the mores of Louisiana and my personal belief that marriage should be protected. I don't think there is a problem voting to underscore that."

Social mores are now a reason to pass Constitutional amendments! What's next? If homosexuality itself is the more, why not make it illegal to have gay clubs, too? This is exactly what our founding Fathers meant when they discussed the tyranny of the majority.

Not mentioned in this piece are Blanco's comments in an interview published in yesterday's edition of Lafayette's weekly newspaper, The Independent, (story not online) where Blanco had this to say about the amendment:

Well, here in Louisiana, I looked at it as though we have laws right now that are doing that, and [a state amendment] is superfluous to some extent. But it's still a very emotional issue to some people.

Obviously there was some interest in using that issue on the national political scene to throw one party against the other. The citizens of Louisiana have an opportunity and a right to vote up and down on some issues that are brought throughout the legislative process, and this one of those issues...

The give their citizens their say bit is something of a cop out, but I won't address that. However, here you have the sitting Governor call a piece of legislation that has the possibility to damage the private relationships of homosexuals (remember the "legal incidents" clause) superfluous one day and then agrees that she will vote for it the next day. I don't get it.

1st Scalise Out 

More heavy hands at the national GOP

at least that's what remaining Republican candidate Mike Rogers says:

But Rogers said Scalise was in part pushed out by a Republican Party maneuver to starve Jindal's opposition in hopes of using some of Jindal's money later on to help Vitter win the much-tighter Senate race.

"I've heard elected officials within the party (discussing) pressuring Scalise to drop out so they can send Jindal's money and support to Vitter's race," Rogers said. "It's an election engineered by the party, of the party, for the party."

State GOP Chairman Roger Villere said he knew of individuals who had discussed Scalise's prospects and future with the candidate but that the party had made no concerted effort to get him out of the election.

"I don't even know what Mr. Rogers is talking about," Villere said. "We're in the business of getting people to run, not getting them out."

Scalise denied being pressured to withdraw, saying, "Nobody asked me to get out."

He said he had decided to step out of the race before accepting the job with the Bush-Cheney campaign.

Note the section I highlighted, because this is what representatives from the state GOP said to reporters regarding the endorsement of Billy Tauzin III in the Third yesterday even though there are still two other Republicans in that race:

He (Jon Bargas, executive director of the state party) said polls are showing that if the race goes to a runoff, it will likely be between Tauzin and a Democrat, and the party would rather put its resources behind Tauzin now, win in the first vote, and perhaps be able to concentrate on other races, such as Louisiana's U.S. Senate race.

Bargas conceded that the state Republican party was breaking with its tradition in making the early endorsement.

"We're looking out for the best interests of the party," he said. "We can win this one on the first vote."

And the GOP's betrayal of Jock Scott in the Fifth is no secret to any readers of this website either. Maginnis had a good column yesterday which mentioned the GOP's decision to do everything they could in their power to push out David Thibodaux in my home district as well:

Thibodaux is again running a strong third in the polls, behind Mount and Cravins, but national Republicans wish he would step aside for the better-financed but lesser-known Dr. Charles Boustany Jr., also of Lafayette.

"Why in the name of logic would I consider getting out?" asked Thibodaux, the favorite of religious conservatives, who said he is not getting the support of "establishment Republicans" because "I don't genuflect at the right altars."

Make no mistake, the GOP doesn't want its voters in this state making their own decisions about who to support. Here is a Party that cares more about winning than it does about the issues important to the people of Louisiana. The result is that you get elected representative who are accountable not to the interests of Louisiana voters, but to their masters in the national party. If you want to know why Democrats continue to succeed in this state in the competitive districts and in state-wide races, it's because they're forced by demographics not to vote party-line on every issue, instead they depend on the citizens of the state to determine the way they vote. In the end they are more independent than their GOP colleagues and more effective for the state of Louisiana.

One last note, reading between the lines on that first story about the Scalise exit really looks like he got paid off to leave the race. If it's true it's not exactly shocking considering he loaned his campaign $10K, (corrected from 100K) qualified, and within weeks of qualifying dropped out. Clearly he didn't have any leverage with party bosses until the qualifying date, then he used it, got a job with the Bush campaign, and quit the race. Considering this is the sponsor of the House version of the hate amendment, who I called a demagogue at best when he introduced it, I shouldn't be too surprised.

New Cox Poll 

Didn't want you guys to miss out on all the fun. Kevin Blanchard over at the advocate has scooped the field with a story on a new Cox-sponsored poll that finds that the people want a vote, but with a twist....they also want fiber. While the local media is consumed by the school bus fiasco and such cutting edge stories as Tinkerbell, Paris Hilton's Chihuahua, Found, New Restaurant Serves Cats, Owners and Bear Drinks 36 Beers Then Passes Out (What is going on over at KATC?) Blanchard slipped in what promises to be a big story.

Put into the field by renowned regional political pollster Kennedy the poll was conducted back during June 24-26th but not released until yesterday. Why the delay? Probably the mixed messag it conveys. There is as much in it for the city as for the incumbents. Here's the heart of it:

About 78 percent of respondents said they have heard of the LUS proposal. Sixty-four percent said they had a favorable opinion of the LUS plan -- while only 21 percent said they are not in favor of the plan, Kennedy said.

Taken together this is hardly happy-making for Cox. It looks like a fair portion of those who want a vote are simply eager to insist they get fiber. That's not the spin they'll put on it of course. Expect another round of Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt. But that is what the city-parish should be looking at.

That was all in the public part of the poll. There was another part, a part you won't see because that part won't get released. Apparently Kennedy also ran a number of talking point type strategies past the respondents. But they don't want to tell us about their fishing for new memes to pound the public with. But I'll bet that part is disappointing too. Think about: they weren't able to get people to say "Government should not compete with business." That is shocking. That question was there to kick off a knee-jerk reaction and the fact that it did not no doubt shocked Cox. 54% of the population see through that tactic. And that has been their big gun...they gotta find another one 'cause that one is starting to shoot blanks.

Anyway there is plenty more--take a look at the story; I'd be curious as to what the collective wisdom here thinks.

18 August 2004

In with the old 

Please let my ex-girlfriends speak so highly of me in fifteen years.

And if I'm well-known enough that they can make some cash off me, I wouldn't complain either.

also via drudge

One track mind Dept. 

Couldn't pass this one up:

Bear drinks 36 beers and passes out

A wildlife agent tried to chase the bear from the campground but the animal just climbed a tree to sleep it off for another four hours. Agents finally herded the bear away, but it returned the next morning.

Agents then used a large, humane trap to capture it for relocation, baiting the trap with the usual: doughnuts, honey and, in this case, two open cans of Rainier. That did the trick.

"This is a new one on me," Heinck said. "I've known them to get into cans, but nothing like this. And it definitely had a preference."

I couldn't do this justice by adding to it.

More Bosscott 

I mentioned this yesterday, but the NY Post has a story up about it in their paper this morning (via who else but Drudge?)

The spot has already begun airing in New York. You can take a look at it here (click on the section marked "Video"). She derides Springsteen's act as "a song and dance routine." Here's what I think. By calling more attention to Bruce's politics she's going to find more people agreeing with him, who they respect, than Dr. O'Grady, who hates America. Because honestly, can you name five people in pop-culture in the last thirty years who can lay a better claim to the title of true-American than Bruce Springsteen? Can you name two?

The Real Reason Behind the John Edwards Visit 

My brother, who's only been in Boston a few weeks now, is clearly missing some of the finer aspects of life in New Orleans. He sent out an email with this notice from the Abita Brew News:

Will Work for Beer? Well Here is Your Chance!
Wednesday, August 18th @ 5PM

Calling all Abita Beer Fans...here is your chance for fame and fortune...beer fortune that is. We will be filming this Wednesday at the Balcony Bar (on the corner of Magazine and Harmony) and we are looking for Abita Beer drinkers to get in on the action. Filming starts at 5PM so dress your best and come out to party with Abita Beer and crew. There will be prizes, t-shirts and ABITA BEER SPECIALS!

If you have modeling or commercial experience and would be interested in playing a larger role in the commercial, please email your pictures and experience to heidi@peoplewhothink.com.

We look forward to seeing you there!
*Must be 21 or older to participate.

I happen to know that John Edwards has commercial experience. We should all send Heidi an email suggesting she contact the campaign. It would be a great way to appeal to voters on the North Shore.

Seriously, though, I would love to get in an Abita commercial and at one of my favorite New Orleans bars, no less. It feels so far away from here...

Hastert is coming 

Speaker Denny Hastert has plans to come to Louisiana (scroll down) to campaign for Rodney Alexander on Sept. 16. Hopefully by then he'll have to get on the stump for Jock Scott because Alexander will have been disqualified. Boy would that be awkward?

...clarification: that second linked story is from yesterday, but today I read--but can't find it online--that Polozola will have a conference call on Friday to determine whether or not to hear the case himself or bump it back down to a state court. In federal Judge James Brady's assessment of his own recusal he warned that federal courts are generally wise to stay out of state election wrangling unless it's absolutely necessary. I am in no position to speculate on whether or not Frank Polozola gives a damn about what James Brady thinks.

Register to Vote 

Today is the last day to register if you expect to vote in the Sept. 18 elections. This is going to be a big day for Louisiana because in all likelihood voters will decide whether or not we should enshrine discrimination against homosexuals in our state Constitution. There are a hundred other things on the ballot all across the state, but this will be the big daddy, as it were, for September. I suspect most people checking in here are already registered, but if not the Secretary of State allows you to use the computer to get the process moving. Tell your friends and family who haven't registered yet to go ahead and get it done.

...link

Pointing out the good 

After yesterday's lengthier-than-usual missive against NCLB there is some good news about education in Louisiana today. Apparently Louisiana saw an increase greater than the national average in ACT scores for 2004. Note that means that the difference between the previous year's average and this year's average was higher than the nation as a whole, not that Louisiana students are averaging a higher real score than students nationally.

I was a little wary of whether or not the data was being used appropriately because I figured it was possible that a smaller sample of students were taking the test this year, which could have driven the scores up because of fewer non-college bound students being assessed. However, I was reassured that the percentage of graduates taking the exam actually rose between 2003 and 2004. This is a good thing no matter how you look at it. Louisiana is still well below the national average in composite scores, but cheers to our educators for some much needed improvement.

3rd District News 

Republican Craig Romero is hopping mad at the state GOP's decision to throw their weight behind that other Republican in the race known as Billy Tauzin III before they had a chance to shake out their differences in the first election. In a somewhat shocking display of honesty from the state party, they admitted to caring more about the GOP than they do about letting the voters actually choose who the best candidate might be:

He (Jon Bargas, executive director of the state party) said polls are showing that if the race goes to a runoff, it will likely be between Tauzin and a Democrat, and the party would rather put its resources behind Tauzin now, win in the first vote, and perhaps be able to concentrate on other races, such as Louisiana's U.S. Senate race.

Bargas conceded that the state Republican party was breaking with its tradition in making the early endorsement.

"We're looking out for the best interests of the party," he said. "We can win this one on the first vote."

Considering the fact that current Rep. Billy Tauzin's spokesman Ken Johnson called the Advocate on his own to make a statement about this, you've got to figure that the most powerful Republican in the state federal delegation probably had something to do with the party's decision to make their endorsement. The news that the endorsement occurred along with an agreement to let the national GOP start sending financing down to the son's candidacy is just another example of the national Party laying down the hammer on local Republicans. This is not the way to endear yourself to Republicans who don't blindly follow the party line on every issue.

Hopefully with the way they've screwed Jock Scott in the fifth and now Craig Romero and Kevin Chiasson in the third we can see a backlash of Louisiana Republicans against the national party's heavy-handed approach to down-ticket federal races. I'm thinking Republicans should take their anger out on David Vitter, who is really the biggest beneficiary in Louisiana from the national GOP right now.

Stroking your Base 

Vitter is trying to make an issue of international observers coming in to observe the US elections this November. The point of contention was a vote Chris John made against a superfluous amendment that would block any taxpayer money for UN observers should they come to monitor our day in the booths. Of course, the only way the UN could come would be with a personal invite from President Bush, and that ain't happenin' any time soon, so John voted against it.

Vitter is trying to use this as a wedge to drive down the support John has from a whole lot of Acadiana conservatives who are likely suspicious of the UN after listening to countless hours of Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity.

Colin Powell's invitation to the OSCE to take a look at the way we do things sparked the new controversy.

Rep. Arthur Morrell continues to say the right things to get me on his side. It's too bad he'd lose in a landslide in a two-way race.

State Rep. Arthur Morrell of New Orleans, one of three major Democrats in the Senate race, said he doesn't see what all the fuss is about. The United States ought to be happy that international observers would want to see a democratic election system that is generally the "envy of the world," he said. But it also should not be afraid to let "impartial observers" witness instances "where problems occur," he said.

Morrell's right here. There would be no way these observers could invalidate our election, indeed their very presence as an independent oversight organization would serve to legitimize the process in the eyes of millions of disillusioned voters in this country, and we could renew the world's confidence in the American electoral promise. Meanwhile, if something goes wrong you would hopefully have people free from the restraints of American partisanship to give an honest assessment of the problem. The argument that this is somehow a threat to sovereignty is simple demagoguery, meant to incite fear in the possibility that men and woman who would have no other function than to watch the proceedings could somehow effect our most cherished civic activity.

The sad thing is that it will probably work.

17 August 2004

Dumb Wall Street Journal 

My friend Murph shot me an email to this John Fund column at Opinion Journal titled "Louisiana North". You guessed it, it's all about corruption in the Garden State. Murph writes,

I find it rather offensive that this diary entry is titled “Louisiana North,” with no mention of the state in the diary, but rather with the understanding that Louisiana is synonymous with corruption. Of course I know that LA has a very corrupt history, but isn’t this the same as calling a fiscally conservative state West Jerusalem?

Somewhat shockingly, it took me a while to turn over that crack about West Jerusalem, but he's got a point.

Anyway, he doesn't mention that the whole relationship to Louisiana falls apart in the first paragraph. Get a load of this:

There is a real story in the personal and family tragedy surrounding James McGreevey's decision to resign as New Jersey's governor on Thursday. There's also a story in the difficulties of someone being gay and holding high public office. But the bigger story here isn't about Mr. McGreevey. It's about how the elites of a major state, one with the nation's second-highest per capita income and one of its most educated and skilled work forces, have allowed it to be so poorly governed by both parties over a span of decades.

You can call Louisiana corrupt all you want to, but don't you ever compare us to some high-falutin North Eastern state with high incomes and an educated and skilled work force. I won't stand for it.

Hah! 

I love when I get these notices about events for donors, since I'm not exactly among that priveleged set at this stage in my life. At any rate, here's relevant information for Kerry/Edwards donors in New Orleans tomorrow:

MEET & GREET SENATOR JOHN EDWARDS at the Kerry-Edwards Victory 2004
Louisiana Reception, this Wednesday, August 18th at the Loews New
Orleans Hotel, 300 Poydras Street, New Orleans. VIP Reception begins
at 11:30am for donors of $10,000-$25,000. General Reception begins at
12:30pm for donors $500-$1,000. Please contact Stephanie Green at
202-528-3799 for further information.

Maybe I'll make it next cycle.

More Man of the People 

"I really, truly wanted to have the experience of having seen the president and hear him speak, which is very important to me as a social studies teacher," she said. "How can anyone in the United States deny someone entry? Isn't this a democracy?"

--55 year old Kathryn Mead after having her ticket torn up by the Secret Service when she tried to enter a Bush campaign stop in Michigan with a Kerry/Edwards lapel sticker.

According to Ms. Mead it's easier to get in to see the Pope and QEII than it is to see George Bush in a high school gymnasium.

via PoliticalWire.com

Dept. of misprints 

Top La. prosecutors warn of penalties for illegal guy purchases

I believe that's supposed to read "gun purchases".

Still more posting today 

I can't stop finding things to write about. This one's meant almost exclusively for my brother who is more than obsessive about Bruce Springsteen. Anyway, Fox News runs with an AP story about a loser Senate candidate in New York's "Conservative Party" trying to organize a boycott of Bruce Springsteen because of his help leading the charge to oust dubya. Later the story describes O'Grady as a Republican.

Here's her website. Apparently she's not happy with liberal Republicans in New York. Nothing there about the Boss. I suspect she won't find much support for this one.


Unbelievable 

I missed this in the morning, but apparently Rapides Parish is going to subpoena a grand jury to decide if they should try a man for having sex in a bathroom.

You remember state Rep. Tommy Wright, who was arrested for allegedly having sex in a public park men's room with another man.

Maybe it's just me, and I'm not going to defend someone's right to go off and have sex in public places with a man or a woman, but shouldn't this be treated more like something of a traffic violation, where a judge can decide the case without a jury and then hand out a sentence of community service and a fine. This strikes me as an incredibly costly way to handle this.

Rapides Parish Assistant District Attorney Andy Van Dyke said Monday in a press release that the cases against Wright and Locker would go before a grand jury.

He noted that the Supreme Court has ruled that consenting sexual activities between adults are no longer criminal if they occur in private. Conducted in public, those sexual activities can result in criminal charges, he said.

I wonder if this were a case of heterosexual sex in public whether or not the prosecutors office would handle it in such a grand manner.

via PoliticsLA.com

Edwards tomorrow 

I guess this was conceived on the fly, because I hadn't seen anything about it anywhere until today, but John Edwards will be back in the Pelican State tomorrow to talk to workers at a job training center at 1340 Poydras Street in New Orleans.

The quick trip underscores what Democrats and campaign officials insist is a determined effort to compete for Louisiana's nine electoral votes, despite President Bush's wide lead here in recent polls. Two weeks ago Edwards spent a day touring north-central Louisiana, attracting decent-sized crowds in areas that gave Bush big margins in 2000.


In comments to an earlier post Michael said, "Even if Bush takes LA, I'd like to see Kerry/Edwards spend a little money or time down here. Make Dubya work to keep his base, which leaves him exposed elsewhere..."

Request approved.

I can't find anything on their website about it, so I suspect it's going to be a closed event. Also, I'll bet it's going to be something along the lines of this event Edwards attended today in Arkansas.

Jeebs 

Absolutely fantastic Howler today. He goes from Cheney's big flip-flop on sensitivity, to last night's Hardball evisceration of Matthew Dowd, and finishes up with some notes about the evil Press Corp's inability to understand John Kerry's supposedly "nuanced" position on Iraq. A telling quote that I laughed out loud about at a library earlier today:

quoting Sanger on Washington Week...

The president set something of a trap last Friday when he said he wanted a yes or no answer. If John Kerry knew what we know now about weapons of mass destruction, would he have gone in anyway? After thinking about it over the weekend, Mr. Kerry decided to step into the track and said "Yes, I would have." He goes on with an explanation, you heard a little of it there [on the tape which was played], about how after he voted for the authorization to go to war, he would have done things differently. Put allies together, get ready for reconstruction. But the fact of the matter is that the president had enough to turn around and then say, see, his position's the same as mine. Which is not exactly what their positions are.

Kerry “doesn’t have a bumper-sticker position?” As a matter of fact, yes, he does. Here it is, simple enough so that even Sanger can grasp it:

KERRY’S POSITION: I voted to give President Bush the authority. Then President Bush f*cked it up.

So simple that even a pundit can grasp it! But the Bush campaign has a favorite tale—Kerry’s position is very confusing—and pundits like Sanger all know to express it. Did we mention the fact that these people are fops—that they never will act in the ways the civics texts describe to your children?

By the way, earth to Sanger: Kerry plainly didn’t say that “he would have gone in anyway.” He said he would have voted for the authority.

Just go read the whole thing.

Moving on up 

Timshel Fiber specialist John StJ gets interviewed at BayouBuzz.com on the critical issue of the future of Fiber to the Home in Lafayette. His partner in crime at LafayetteProFiber.com Mike Stagg has some thoughts too. The reason I support the initiative:

[I]f you believe, as we do, that the true broadband capacity only a fiber optic network can bring is the essential service of the emerging economy, and that such a network is an engine of community growth and development that will be as important as the interstate or electrification were in their day, then you will want to make sure that prices are low and that every citizen has the most reasonably priced access as is humanly possible. And you will want your local fiber network to be a municipal utility.

...

Imagine that you are a business seeking to relocate to a smaller, warmer, more welcoming clime. Touring the competing cities you find one that is not only currently healthy (Lafayette has the lowest unemployment rate in the state) but you see things you see nowhere else treated as normal and expected. No one remarks on broadband access in every home that you find astonishing ... The city fathers gave you a password when you flew in that allows you to access both of the comprehensive citywide wifi networks that the city licensed to use the fiber backbone. You occasionally open your notebook and check your mail just to prove that you can do it anywhere. The residents are proud of their services but seem a little puzzled at your surprise. After all, they live in Lafayette.

Where would you choose to relocate? Would Lafayette even have to beggar their public school system with tax giveaways to convince you?

One quibble, what no Timshel plug?

Thanks to RichardP. for sending me the link to this one, should have seen it myself, John...

Man of the People? 

It's just another myth about Bush that ought be thrown out with yesterday's garbage.

I wouldn't care if John Kerry were thirty points behind Bush in Louisiana. I would pay to be a part of that kind of groundswell.

NCLB 

Surprise, No Child Left Behind isn't working in Louisiana.

According the state Superintendent of Education there's not enough funding and states don't have enough flexibility under the terms of the act. That's quite a strange statement considering that every time President Bush has one of his canned ask and answer sessions with fake voters he talks about how he wants schools to have local control. The President says he doesn't want Washington running things.

(link quote: "We believe in local control of schools, and we're willing to challenge the status quo when we find schools that will not teach and will not change. (Applause.) We're doing the hard work. When it comes to reforming our schools, there's more work to do. We're going to reform our high schools to make sure the high school diploma means something.")

Anyway, down here in the real world where our schools stink, an independent state public affairs organization predicts that three out of four schools won't meet the accountability standards, and Cecil Picard, the aforementioned SI, agrees with them.

The sad thing is that Louisiana is pretty much doing what they're supposed to do under federal terms, and it's simply not working. Remember when "Education Week" rated Louisiana fifth in the nation for efforts to improve public schools? I posted on that some months ago now, but it clearly isn't making a difference yet. And Louisiana was on board the "accountability" train well before a lot of states were. There was some suggestion during Mary Landrieu's last Senate campaign that that federal law was somewhat modeled on state's like Louisiana's education reforms. Does anyone really think this is a good thing?

Anyhow, here's what I said about this in January:

[T]o do well on the "Education Week" report you have to institute all these "accountability" measures that seem to be in vogue around (and/or now federal law I guess) the nation. I presume that school systems that would try other measures to improve education wouldn't do so well with their grades for "Education Week". Also, there doesn't seem to be any focus whatsoever on results in this report. It doesn't matter if "accountability" demonstrably doesn't work, only that you institute the reforms. Surely concrete school performance and achievement will follow, the story assumes.

...

The reason I linked to this in the first place is because The Advocate published more results from their year end survey of public opinion. This time they look at state education, and guess what they found! The people most affected by accountability measures and in the greatest need for better education (black kids in the cities) are indifferent to the program--not even mustering a bare majority that believes the programs work. The people most commonly describing the program as effective are from north Louisiana and Acadiana, just where the schools were better to start off with.

Eight months later and things are looking worse than they did in January. If Bush comes down to Louisiana and sells this bullshit that he's a great education reformer would he be booed off the stage? Probably not, because the only people there will be signing loyalty oaths to their local GOP officials, but just because his audiences are hand-picked and love to cheer doesn't change the disastrous effects his policies are having in this state.

Not-so trivial family history 

In light of the recent horrors in Florida and the 35th anniversary of Hurricane Camille, the Pic recalls the terror that swept the Gulf Coast in 1969.

How bad was it?

Born just west of the Cayman Islands on Aug. 14, 1969, Camille grew to be one of the three Category 5 storms to hit the continental United States, killing 256 people, 181 more than Hurricane Betsy claimed four years earlier.

On Sunday, Aug. 17, shortly before midnight, Camille's center trundled ashore over three Mississippi cities: Clermont Harbor, Waveland and Bay St. Louis. With maximum sustained winds near 200 mph, it leveled trees and demolished buildings. No one knows for sure Camille's top wind speed, notes the National Hurricane Center, because it destroyed all the wind-recording instruments in the landfall area.

I'm guessing the Pic included pictures referred to in the article, but if you want to see some pretty amazing ones you can click here.

The family history part comes from a story I've heard a hundred times while driving with my father and mother between Lafayette and Florida, which is that a broken down car was the only thing that stood between them and my oldest brother and sister, who were one and two at the time, and a beach-front hotel in Biloxi that very weekend. Thank God for small favors, no?

A Lesson for Justice Scalia 

I guess it was too much to ask for the hearing on whether or not Rodney Alexander should be disqualified from the ballot for switching parties after initially filing as a Democrat to be heard by a former chairman of the state Democratic Party.

At any rate, Judge James Brady recused himself after a sealed request from Chris Alexander, the attorney handling the case for the hopefully soon-to-be-former Congressman from the 5th District.

From what I can gather from this story he practically begged for the recusal motion:

In a conference late Friday, Brady reminded both sides in the case that he once chaired the state Democratic Party and gave them until Monday morning to ask that he leave the case.

The case has now been bumped over to Frank Polozola, whose name you probably know because he presided over Edwin Edwards corruption and racketeering trial. He's probably got the time now, since he has recused himself from reconsidering the Edwards appeal of his verdict. God knows what else these federal Judges do with their time.

Polozola is a Carter appointee.

Weird 

Many moons ago I noted Britney Spears's Cannuck stalker should stay away from Louisiana's not-so-favorite daughter.

Anyway, he was back in Hammond this weekend for reasons I'm not quite sure about. What's clear is that this guy is a real weirdo, and probably very dangerous. The Advocate's Josh Noel gets what appears to be an exclusive with the guy who just wants to meet the Queen of the North Shore. Selectively quoting this won't do it justice, so you really should go read the whole thing. Here come the highlights anyway:

Daniel Lachance wants to marry Britney Spears. But first Lachance wants to try clearing his name, which is why he sat on a Greyhound bus for 42 hours last week and risked arrest by visiting Hammond for two days.

Lachance, who hopped between two motels to stay a step ahead of police, returned to Louisiana to speak with the media. His message, which came in a French Canadian accent: "I didn't do what they said I did."

...

He said he was inspired to visit Spears' mother's home, called Serenity, based on a TV interview in which Britney said fans had come for tea. Lachance took it as an offer.

"I went to her mama's house because I wanted to bring her flowers," he said. "I wanted to introduce myself as a gentleman to the mama like they did in the old days."

...

"Don't invite fans to the house for tea if you don't want to get bothered," Lachance said.

...

Lachance said he still dearly wants to meet Britney because "She's a nice girl." He said he believes there could be a future between them, and that he would sign a prenuptial agreement to prove he's not after her money.

...

"I'm facing to go to jail if I stay here," he said before leaving Louisiana. "I love Louisiana and I came here because of Britney, but I'm not gonna stay so that I might go to jail again. Sometimes you do crazy things for love. It's up to her to decide how she feels."

So apparently he spent 40 hours on a bus to talk to the media? Don't they have phones in Canada? Email? Doesn't he know Britney doesn't actually live here?

16 August 2004

Vitter goes for Fiber 

Been a slow time for fiber news and a busy one for me what with the new fiber website. But this little tidbit seemed made for Timshel readers. What do you folks make of it?

As unlikely as it may seem Vitter came out for municipal telecom utilities. Maybe it was the venue. —He was in Lafayette at the yearly municipal association meeting. Here is what the Advocate reported:
Vitter also noted he supports giving local government a freer hand in providing telecommunications services -- cable television, Internet and telephone -- if they can offer those services more affordably than private companies.

Competition serves consumers better, he said.
I am at something of a loss, but there are two major possibilities I see: He didn't know what he was saying and will recant as soon as he discovers that BellSouth and Cox oppose it. Or he does know what he was saying and figures that support for the nascent plan is so strong that saying something like this in Lafayette will help him. ...Ok, I guess there is a third possibility: it could be that he is simply taking a fairly principled conservative stand and favoring local government over state government and that he really does understand that the competition will be good for the citizens --I mean "consumers." Thoughts?

The Nutshells 

I saw this commercial last night during Adult Swim and the absolute first thing that occurred to me was that it was doing nothing other than appealing to stoners. I don't watch Saturday morning cartoons, so I don't know if maybe they're trying to develop some cross-over appeal between stoners and very misguided children, but I suspect it could be part of their marketing strategy.

The only way anyone will know for sure is if the Skippy snack bars begin showing up sold in individually wrapped packages next to the rolling papers at your corner convenience store.

The real question that deserves exploration is how Skippy Peanut Butter was web-savvy enough to get on board the domain name train while PeanutButter.com was still available. Talk about a marketing coup.

Venezeula 

I have no dog in this fight, but it's interesting that despite Chavez's claim of victory, fully ninety-four percent of expatriate voters at the consulate in New Orleans voted for his removal from office. It's probably not surprising since the people with enough money to to go to school and work in the United States are the people with the most to lose in a Chavez regime, but good reading nonetheless.

Some claimed to have problems a la Florida in struggling to cast their ballots. It's good the US isn't the only country that can't protect the integrity of its elections.

One other surprise is that there were only 154 voters from a five state region including Tennessee, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. From what I can tell there were just over 300 eligible to vote as citizens of the South American country in this region. That strikes me as very few. It's just a feeling, though, I guess I expected more Venezuelans hanging around.

State Gay Marriage Amendment 

I mentioned the way the legal challenge was advancing on Saturday. I guess there's nothing new in this story, but it is a note that there's another hearing today.

Michael Caldwell, the judge hearing the case, is a Republican from Baton Rouge serving his second stint on the state bench.

Bikers 

You have to love their commitment to civil discourse.

There a couple of stories in the papers today about their "freedom ride" in front of an empty governor's mansion yesterday including the altogether ridiculous argument that they don't want to wear helmets because they can't see and hear with them on, and that in fact helmets make riding more dangerous. I didn't care about this law much one way or the other when it was moving through the legislature, but supported it because I believe in the end it reduces state hospital costs to injured motorcyclists.

At any rate, you probably want to be careful when one of your brothers in arms makes this kind of argument:

Tim Mayeaux, a Baton Rouge security systems technician, said the issue came back to states rights and railed against "the tyrant president" Abraham Lincoln, saying that "states' rights died at Appomattox."

He said because of the new helmet law he feels he is "not being represented by my local government, which I paid for."

Uh oh. Apparently there were a lot of Confederate flags on display too.

Who would have believed a biker rally would find men and women adorned with the stars and bars?

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